Cone of Silence

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.

Albert Einstein

No, that is not a lampshade on her head, but it sure looks like one doesn’t it?! Oh… the days of my youth and the embarrassing moments like that. Ha! Anyway, it’s actually a cone of silence and I’ve got a good reason for wearing one of those lately.

I noticed the other day that some of my more recent posts resemble conversations that I have with myself. Not out loud, of course, but in my head. This post is not much different, but it’s about a new discovery for me so I hope you stay with me.

I often mention that I live in a sort of isolation, but when I saw this Einstein quote I realized that it’s not isolation at all, it’s solitude. There is a big difference. And I don’t live alone either, my mom and youngest son live here as well. I guess whenever I refer to isolation I’m talking about neglecting social connections, outside of the family that I live with. And I have since had two awesome get-togethers with my friends so I’m making real progress in that department.

Regardless, I loved this quote because it made me see one of the reasons that I enjoy this so-called solitude so much… because I’m older now. I imagine that if I was twenty, thirty, or even forty, I might regret being such a homebody- but I’ve reached the age where I know what I enjoy and I know what makes for a better quality of life for me, especially being slightly introverted- or at least living in my head a lot.

Which brings me to the cone of silence. I really do talk to myself in my head and, to be honest, most of the time I don’t make a lot of sense. I think about the past, I imagine the future, I doubt and question myself (which is what you read here sometimes in my posts), and the end result is a lot of unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Just after pondering this quote, and realizing that I question myself too much, I started reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I discovered that when I stop overthinking, or try to stop thinking at all, I experience a calm that is new to me. My focus has always been on changing my thinking – removing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts – but I never really thought about not thinking at all.

I’m not talking about being brain dead either. It’s about being present, and I’m learning some things about myself in this “not thinking” mode. I realized that my A.D.D. (also knows as an attention span of about 2 minutes, at most) is caused by an inability to shut off my own thoughts – which not only take over but ran rampant. Whenever I’m in my head, I’m not present… my body is there but “I” have left the building. And that is probably 95% of the time if not more.

So, that’s where my idea about the cone of silence came from. When doing some of the exercises he mentions (and I’m only a few chapters in), I somehow imagined this cone over my head and I had to laugh. It reminded me of the story of a man who started wearing a tinfoil hat to keep out mind-readers, or brainwashers, or something like that.

But I was amazed at how my thoughts have been easier to control. One thing he suggests is closing your eyes and thinking “I wonder what my next thought will be.” I tried it and it literally stopped my thoughts for a bit. If anyone else has read the book and has any input I’d love to hear it. Some of the things he says are a bit wild, but a lot of it makes sense.

Basically, I think it’s about guarding your mind, and I had already learned some of that through recovery. And I think that Einstein’s quote expresses how creativity and discoveries are more likely to come through when your mind is quiet.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this because I’m excited. I’m learning to quiet my (exhausting) mind, to be present, and to accept where I am, right now. And it is liberating.

That’s about all for now. It’s time to put on the cone and say goodnight.

Peace & Love, and I’d love to hear from anyone who has read the book and has thoughts on it! Or non-thoughts. 🙂

Road to Happiness

The road to success [or a better life] is always under construction.

Lily Tomlin [and me]

As you probably know, I never tire of learning about the power of our minds. Sometimes I’ll read or hear something and it sends chills down my spine. Good chills. It’s like a feeling of excitement that what you just learned has helped you tap into something better, something life-changing, something miraculous.

So… this is going to be my first post for a year long series:

Miracles Every Day

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I read a book a while back called Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. She has interesting thoughts not only on how our brains work, but on how bits of biblical text actually correlate with the way that they work.

It is truly fascinating, but I have to confess that I never did the worksheets. I always do that. I’ll read a great self-help book where the back half of the book has all of the questions, planners, guides, exercises, etc., and I’ll stop right there. I just wanted to hear how the damn thing works, not actually DO the work. Ha!

The bottom line: It’s about how repeating positive thoughts can build new pathways in our brains, and how cutting out negative thoughts will begin to shut down the old pathways we’ve constructed over our lifetime—with negative or unhealthy thinking, false beliefs, etc.

Talk on how repetitive thoughts (or even activities) create pathways in our brain is not new, I just had a harder time grasping it—scientifically—until I read her book.

Here’s the deal though. As passionate as I am about “the mind,” I am a terrible student when it comes to physiology. Don’t ask me why, but I can’t seem to memorize the names of human body parts and their functions!

When I read things relating to neuroscience—about specific regions of the brain, for example, or neurons, neurotransmitters, receptors, and so on—my mind begins to fog up and I begin to look like a deer in the headlights. That being said, when I try to imagine how it all works I see something like this…

But… recently, I found the best analogy ever:

*Imagine you have crash landed in the jungle. There are thick branches and vines everywhere, as far as you can see. You are thirsty, and you hear running water in the distance, to the right of your mangled plane. You search for the easiest way to get there, but all you can see is this thick vegetation and it’s the same in every direction. You stay where you are because you are afraid. But your thirst finally overcomes your fear, and you strike out for the creek.

When you do this, you make a pathway. It is not much and it will not last, but it is there. By passing through the jungle once, you have made a pathway of least resistance. As you head back, you take that pathway again because it’s now the easiest way. As you go through this repeatedly, you make more of a pathway until in time you have a nice smooth trail. Now, every time you go to the creek you take the easiest way. That is how the brain works and that is how learning takes place.*

Now, this may not explain what is inside the brain, but as far as how repetitive thoughts, habits, and pathways work… I think it’s absolutely perfect. I love the visual!

I guess the point here is that human beings are amazing and complex beings, with minds that are capable of doing things that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

That being said, the power of the human mind is a miracle. No doubt about it.

The featured image is a fun composite piece that I made for the post. The road to happiness, for sure. After a conversation I had earlier, I’m going to “try” to work on some tips for Photoshop, so my goal is to come back another day and use this piece to show how to make a simple composite piece. I’m no expert, but I think I have some tricks up my sleeve.

That’s about all for now. Thanks for reading!

Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.


*Source: Robert R. Perkinson, Chemical Dependency Counseling